Edwin Black: American Corporate Complicity Created Undeniable Nazi NexusRoundup: Talking About History
Adolf Hitler was completely responsible for the Holocaust. But Hitler had help.
When zealous Nazis were motivated to wage war against an imaginary generation-to-generation Jewish conspiracy… when Nazis created ghastly extermination plans to help ensure their master race would rule the world… when the German military was enabled to smash across Europe with lightning speed in heavy Blitz trucks, bomb mercilessly from the air in advanced JU-88s, and create carnage across the seas with deadly torpedoes… when Josef Mengele saw the scientific need to undertake heinous medical experiments on twins in Auschwitz… when the Reich was enabled to identify the Jews everywhere in Europe and then systematically pauperize and destroy them… when all these terrible things were done, the shape and scope of the horror was pivotally determined by major American industrial giants.
Now the dots can be connected. They create an undeniably Nazi nexus between iconic American corporations and the greatest crime of the twentieth century: the Holocaust.
Who gave Hitler the initial basis for transmogrifying centuries of outgroup religious hatred into a new twentieth century political anti-Semitism? It was Henry Ford, acting directly through the Ford Motor Company. In 1920, the gullible but mercurial Ford acquired a forged typescript convincing him of an evil international Jewish cabal determined to subjugate the world through devious manipulation of the world’s governments, newspapers, and economic systems. The revelations were contained in the notorious and fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
To purvey this new brand of Jew hatred to the world, Ford purchased a failed newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, which serialized The Protocols for 91 weeks. His company then published the series as a book, The International Jew. Using the techniques of mass production, Ford was able to escalate the Protocols from a negligible, randomly circulated irritant to a national sensation of 500,000 copies. Devoting the national sales force and the assets of the Ford Motor Company to the task hatred made Henry Ford the first to organize political anti-Semitism in America. Indeed, he was the hero of anti-Semites the world over.
In Germany, where Ford was venerated, The International Jew was translated and published in February, 1921. It enjoyed six editions in two years with thousands of copies in print. Ford’s book quickly became the bible of German anti-Semites and early incarnations of the Nazi party. Nazis shipped the work throughout the country “by the carload.”
Among the many Germans massively influenced by the book was Adolf Hitler. Der Führer read the work at least two years before Mein Kampf was written. It shows. In Mein Kampf, chapter 11, Hitler wrote, “The whole existence of this people is based on a continuous lie [as] shown incomparably by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion… With positively terrifying certainty, they reveal the nature and activity of the Jewish people and … their ultimate final aims.” Hitler described Ford as his hero. No wonder Ford received Hitler’s German Eagle medal in a lavish Berlin ceremony. The medal was reserved for foreigners who rendered special service to the Reich.
Who gave Hitler the pseudo-scientific medical rationales to justify a war to achieve a blond, blue-eyed master race with the duty to obliterate all other races deemed inferior? It was the Carnegie Institution, the philanthropic incarnation of America’s greatest steel fortune that propagated the deadly American race science of eugenics. Beginning in 1911, Carnegie Institution scientists argued successfully that millions worldwide who did not conform to a blond, blue-eyed Nordic stereotype were unworthy of existence on earth.
American eugenics believed such social traits as poverty, prostitution, and laziness were genetic. The continuation of racially inferior bloodlines— a broad swath encompassing some 90 percent of humanity—was to be combated by various methods. These methods included organized identification, seizure of assets, marriage prohibition or nullification, forced surgical sterilization, segregation into camps, and publicly operated gas chambers. Various eugenic notions were enacted into law in 27 states. Ultimately, some 60,000 persons were forcibly sterilized, thousands more incarcerated in state camps, and untold numbers unmarried and in some cases subjected to organized lethal medical neglect. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes enshrined these policies as the law of the land when he ruled such acts justified. “It is better for all the world,” Holmes wrote, “if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”
The Carnegie Institution and its sponsored movement spent millions to propagate American eugenic theories in post-WWI Germany, financing race science programs in universities and official institutions. These included the idea that Jews must be eliminated.
While in prison, Hitler closely studied American eugenics. In Mein Kampf, Hitler insisted, “There is today one state, in which at least weak beginnings toward better conception… are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the United States.” Hitler proudly told his comrades, “I have studied with great interest the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock.” Hitler merely exchanged the American term “Nordic” for the Nazi term “Aryan" and then medicalized his pre-existing virulent anti-Semitism and fascist nationalism, to formulate the concept of the blond, blue-eyed Master Race he deified in Mein Kampf.
Hitler was so steeped in American race science that he even wrote a fan letter to American eugenic leader Madison Grant, called his writing “my bible.”
The Third Reich implemented all American eugenic principles with great ferocity and velocity backed up by a conquering army. “While we were pussy-footing around,” fawned Leon Whitney, executive secretary of the American Eugenics Society, “the Germans were calling a spade a spade." As Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess insisted, “National Socialism is nothing but applied biology.”
Who gave Hitler’s odious medical eugenic experimentation the wherewithal to commit unspeakable crimes against innocent twins? It was the Rockefeller Foundation, the philanthropic incarnation of Standard Oil. The foundation acted as a full partner with Carnegie in establishing eugenics across America and in Germany. In the quest to perfect the master race, millions of Depression-era dollars were transmitted by Rockefeller to Hitler’s most anti-Jewish doctors. In this quest, one specimen was desired above all: twins.
Rockefeller funded Hitler’s chief raceologist Otmar Verschuer and his insatiable twin experimentation programs. Twins, it was thought, held the secret to industrially multiplying the Aryan racial type, and quickly subtracting biological undesirables. Verschuer had an assistant, Josef Mengele. Rockefeller funding stopped during WWII. But by that time, Mengele had transferred into Auschwitz to continue twin research in a monstrous fashion. Ever the eugenicist, he sent precise clinical reports weekly to Verschuer.
Who took Hitler off the horse and put his killing armies into trucks to wage Blitzkrieg or lightning war against Europe? It was General Motors which built the Blitz truck for the Blitzkrieg. As the Reich’s largest car and truck maker, GM became an indispensible partner in Hitler’s war. From the first weeks of the Third Reich, GM president Alfred Sloan committed the company and its German division, Opel, to motorizing a substantially horse-drawn Germany, preparing it for war. Prior to this, Germany had been a nation devoted to legendary automotive engineering but only one vehicle at a time built by craftsman. GM brought mass production to the Reich, converting it from a horse-drawn threat to a motorized powerhouse.
Sloan and GM knowingly prepared the Wehrmacht to wage war in Europe. Detroit even secretly moved massive stores of spare Blitz parts to the Polish border in the days just before the September 1, 1939 invasion to facilitate the Blitzkrieg.
Using a charade of interlocking boards and special executive committees, Sloan kept GM’s role secret as long as possible. Where Opel lacked parts or foreign currency, Detroit ordered other international subsidiaries to stealthily assist.
In addition to motorizing the military, Sloan launched massive re-employment programs to help revive the Nazi economy—this at a time when the company declined to put Depression-wracked Americans back to work. GM’s success led to the need for the Autobahn. GM’s chief executive in Germany James Mooney received the same medal Ford was awarded, for special service rendered to the Reich.
Who custom-designed and co-planned the Nazi solutions to Jewish existence? It was International Business Machines, inventor of the Hollerith punch card, precursor to the modern computer. IBM enjoyed a monopoly on information technology. Under the micromanagement of its president, Thomas Watson, and advertising itself as “a solutions company,” IBM in 1933 reached out to the new Hitler regime. It offered to organize and systemize any solution the Reich desired, including solutions to the Jewish problem.
With IBM as a partner, the Hitler regime was able to substantially automate and accelerate all six phases of the twelve-year Holocaust: identification, exclusion, confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, and even extermination.
As it did with any other customer, IBM simply asked the Hitler regime what result was desired. Then company engineers devised custom-tailored punch card systems to deliver the results. First, who was Jewish and where did the Jews live--exactly. IBM solution: a customized racial and religious census designed and tabulated by the company. Second, once identified, systematically expel Jews from all segments of society. IBM solution: create databases cross-tabulating ordinary organizational and community directories from association membership rosters to lists of marriages, deaths and births.
Third, confiscate Jewish assets. IBM solution: all banks and financial institutions were run by IBM cards which could be programmed to seek out the Jewish names and their accounts for seizure. Fourth: ghettoize the Jews. IBM Solution: cross-match families from their existing residences into crowded dilapidated slums so that in a single day, thousands of people could be efficiently transferred from point A to point B. Fifth, deport the Jews to camps. IBM solution: most of the railroads in Europe were routed by IBM punch cards. Create special depots to ensure that trains with cattle cars were made available to transport Jews to camps. Inbound, these trains were crowded with helpless humans. Returning, they were empty.
Sixth: the Jews were to be systematically and industrially murdered. IBM Solution 1: establish different codes for each classification of concentration camp prisoners. Prisoner Code 8 designated a Jew. Status Code 6 designated killed by gas chamber. In this way, the Reich always knew how many Jews it was killing. In extermination camps, almost all Jews were murdered upon arrival in an IBM-aided system that metered victims from ghettos to train to death camp in murderous synchrony. IBM Solution 2: create the “Extermination by Labor” program using custom IBM punch card programs that matched the skills of Jewish prisoners wherever they were to Reich labor needs wherever they were. Once moved to the labor site, Jews were worked to death. There was an IBM customer site in every concentration camp.
Had it not been for the continued conscious involvement of iconic American corporations in Hitler’s war against the Jews, the speed, shape and statistics of the Holocaust as we know it would have been dramatically different. No one knows how different, but the astronomical dimensions could have never been achieved. For their part, American corporate collaborators have long tried to obscure or hide the details of their collusion using the well-known tools of corporate misinformation, financial contributions, and bought and paid for historian reviews. But in era when people no longer believe big corporations, the dots can be fully connected to unveil the outlines of an indispensible Nazi nexus.